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Signs & Symptoms of Binge Eating

Binge-eating disorder, also known by the acronym of BED, is a combined type of eating disorder and emotional disorder that is defined by chronic and compulsive patterns of eating excessive amounts of food to the point of going beyond feeling full. An illness that can affect both men and women, those who participate in the behaviors associated with binge-eating disorder almost always experience feelings of shame, guilt, and disgust with themselves during and after the binging episode. Despite such negative feelings of emotional turmoil, and despite the onset of functional impairments that can result from BED behaviors, those who are suffering from this disorder find themselves incapable of ceasing this devastating pattern of behaviors. With proper treatment and therapeutic intervention, however, the symptoms of binge-eating disorder can be successfully battled and triumphed over.

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Research has shown that binge-eating disorder is more common than anorexia and bulimia, believed to affect one in every 35 adults in the United States. This is the equivalent of approximately 3-5% of women and approximately 2% of men. In many cases, eating disorders are seen more prominently in women, however, binge-eating disorder has a 40% occurrence in men, making the total number of men suffering from this disorder almost equal to the number of women.

Causes and Risk Factors for Binge-Eating Disorder

Researchers and professionals in the field of mental health believe that there are a combination of factors working together that render individuals susceptible to experiencing the onset of binge-eating disorder. Such factors are discussed briefly in the following: Genetic: While there have yet to be any specific genes identified as being directly linked to the development of binge-eating disorder, research has shown that this is a disorder that has been known to run in families, demonstrating the presence of additive genetic influences. Environmental: Environmental factors can play a tremendous role in the onset and continuation of binge-eating behaviors. Individuals who are made subject to constant criticism, or who have suffered from abuse or neglect, may turn to food as a means of finding comfort. However, this quickly becomes a problem as these people begin to feel as though food is their only sense of comfort and therefore begin the destructive pattern of binge-eating. Additionally, some parents may unknowingly set the stage for the future onset of binge-eating disorder if they frequently use food as a means of rewarding their child, of comforting their child, or as a way to dismiss or pacify their child Risk Factors:

  • Personal history of depression or other mental health condition
  • Family history of eating disorders, depression, or other mental health condition
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lacking healthy coping skills
  • Lacking a support network
  • Pervasive familial or relationship discord
  • Being the victim of ongoing criticism or bullying
  • Suffering from abuse and/or neglect

Signs and Symptoms of Binge-Eating Disorder

While the specific signs and symptoms that are displayed by an individual with binge-eating disorder will vary from person to person, the most common include the following: Behavioral symptoms:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge-eating
  • Eating excessive amounts of food, despite not being hungry
  • Eating at a much more rapid pace than would be considered normal
  • Hiding food or hiding wrappers from food
  • Eating alone as the result of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
  • Constantly eating throughout the day, regardless of the time of day or night
  • Isolating oneself from family and friends
  • Going to great lengths to try to please others

Physical symptoms:

  • Heart problems
  • Blood pressure issues
  • Panic attacks
  • Overwhelming feelings of fatigue
  • Abnormal blood-sugar levels
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Having difficulty walking
  • Having difficulty engaging in various forms of physical activity

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Perfectionism
  • Rigid thinking patterns
  • Intrusive thoughts regarding a need to be in control
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Memory disturbances

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of disgust with oneself
  • Feelings of shame and guilt

If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Binge-Eating Disorder

The effects of untreated binge-eating disorder can be long-lasting and far-reaching. Depending on the severity of the symptoms present, such effects will vary from person to person but may include the following:

  • Irreversible health impairments
  • Onset of serious health complications
  • Development of obesity
  • Decreased overall quality of life
  • Decreased life satisfaction
  • Impaired, dysfunctional, or nonexistent significant interpersonal relationships
  • Social role adjustment issues
  • Onset of self-harming behaviors
  • Presence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Co-Occurring Disorders

It is not uncommon for individuals who are suffering from binge-eating disorder to be suffering from symptoms that are synonymous with other mental illnesses as well. Examples of various disorders known to co-occur alongside BED can include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance use disorders

Get confidential help now: 855.396.1913 or EMAIL US.

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